The Beacon Club
A story by Space & Broomhouse Hub
The Beacon Club is a day care service for 40 people over 60 with dementia in Edinburgh. Our aim is to, improve quality of life as well as supporting members to live in their own home for longer. Carers are able take a break while members are at the club.
What The Beacon Club did
At the start of the grant we increased our service capacity from 30 to 40 day care places per week by adding an extra day to our service provision and offering these places to elder people with dementia living in the Pentlands area. We contacted local referral agencies and received 6 referrals to add to our waiting list of 4 for the extra day. We offered our care assistant an extra day to support the new day and recruited for 2 new local volunteers through local organisations.
Volunteers received, dementia, first aid, manual handling, food hygiene and bounders training. We gained 14 new carers who had a 5 hours day per week to plan their own activates which include meeting friends for lunch, taking swimming lessons, attending keep fit classes, or just relaxing at home. We also offered cares the opportunity to attend our monthly adult carers support group. In August 2019 we took our members to see a show at the Fringe we also offered cares vouchers to book shows and all of our carers took the opportunity to either meet in groups or go with friends to enjoy an afternoon at the fringe and see a show.
In March 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic we had to close our day care service and carers group activities to reduce risk of the virus spreading. We looked at new ways to support or members and their carers. We offered one to one telephone support to 34 members of our club and 45 cares. We supplied food boxes, activity packs and MP3 players. In August we commenced up to 2 hour one to one outdoor meetings for walks for members giving carers much need respite and following strict guidelines, brought members to the hub for lunch and a small activity.
What Space & Broomhouse Hub has learned
I have found that through the pandemic partnership working with both statutory and third sectors has been a necessity to get the right support in place. We have learned that digital exclusion has made a bad situation slightly worse and something we hope to address in the future. We have acquired IPads and notebooks from SCVO and hope to start training in small carer groups in the New Year and for our members as soon as guidelines allow us to. We have had lot of offers of digital support from third sector organisations which we will make use of in the New Year.
How Space & Broomhouse Hub has benefitted from the funding
The funding has allowed the Beacon Club to continuing supporting or members and carers through the very difficult lockdown period. Offering both groups opportunity for short breaks, a listing ear and signposting to other support available in the community.
Carers and the people they care for will report mutual benefit. Carers will report how one days respite each week helps reduce stress and improves their ability to be a carer. Carers will report how the Club is helping the cared for person’s wellbeing eg mood, ability to live at home.
Pre lockdown all 10 new members of the Beacon Club were settling in well to extra day. Personal care plans were complete with the members and their carers and they were getting to know each other and enjoying the activities, outing, lunch and socialising with each other. Over Christmas we had a party, held a carol service and the local nursery visited us to perform the nativity play. Carer’s feedback was very positive, they were enjoying the break in their caring role and happy that their loved ones were settling in well into the club. Post lock down we provide telephone support to reassure and elevate worries and concerns. Cares updated us on things members were struggling with and we supported them as much as we were able, Because of the relationships we had built with members and cares, staff and volunteers could respond quickly to the needs of our members and support their carers as much as we could.
David (79) and his wife Sandra (77) live in the Balerno area of Edinburgh, They have a daughter who lives locally but works full time. The referral came from the Occupational Therapist who was helping Sandra modify their house after her hip replacement operation. The therapist felt that Sandra was seriously struggling in her caring role and had no respite at all as David, who had been diagnosed with dementia in 2014 had been reluctant to attend any day care services in the past. Our manager went to visit them at home and had a good long chat with both Sandra and David about the service and what we offered and made a deal with David to try our service for a month and if he did not like it after that he would not need to attend anymore. For the first visit Sandra accompanied David to the club, so he didn’t feel too stressed, and then left after the morning snack. David very quickly settled into the group he was very quiet at first but soon made new friends and enjoying all the activities and fun laughter of the group. David especially liked the keep fit activities and our new garden, being a keen gardener himself. David also loves music and really enjoys all the musical sessions Sandra joined a local keep fit and then caught up with friends for lunch. Quote from Sandra ‘it’s like a breath of fresh air having all the freedom and time to do my own thing, I can plan my day and David is so happy and relaxed on his return from the club and always keen to tell me what he been up to which is wonderful’, I am delighted that he very much enjoys his days at the Beacon Club as this means that I can also enjoy my free time and not feel guilty’ Sandra was also very keen to join our Adult cares IT Training class and would attend once per month to our afternoon class for an hour to learn some basic skills and then have coffee and chat with the other carers in the group and get some peer support.
Carers will report that they have used the weekly respite opportunity to attend to their own needs which has helped them look after and their own wellbeing. We are in regular contact with carers to share information about the cared for person. This enables our staff to collect evidence.
Before lockdown cares had roughly 5 hours to have a little respite from their caring role. Cares used the time to do a verity of short breaks including, taking swimming lesions, meeting friends and family for lunch, completing DIY projects, and taking keep fit classes. The staff keep in regular contact with the cares to let them know how their loved one was doing and also to support the cares and offer them opportunities, to attend local classes, signpost them to other short break activities. We also shared information from other care services, such as Vocal, Care for Cares and the DEEP network. Post coronavirus things changed very rapidly for our cares, many have seen an exponential increase in their caring responsibilities following local authorities’ decision to reprioritise care packages. Our service had kept in regular contact with cares offering help and support wherever we can. We delivered, lovely afternoon teas, indoor plant growing pack and mild exercise packs.
In March 2020 with the onset of Covid-19 the Beacon Club faced many challenges and one of the biggest ones was the lack of internet access or devices for our members and their cares. With lots of services moving on line with a selection of zoom and team activities offering everything from cooking and art classes to singing groups, exercise classes or simply meeting up with friends for a chat, being digitally excluded made for a very isolating and lonely time for lots of our cares and members. We called regularly for chats but some members didn’t like talking on the phone or had been scammed in the past so didn’t like to pick up the phone. We prepared newsletter with interesting fun articles, quizzes and updates but this again had limitations for members whose eye sight was not the best. Talking to carers the main issue arising from not attending the service was boredom, they were sitting in their chars all day watching the TV and were struggling for lack of stimulation and loneliness which in turn increased carers stress. We decided to think outside the box for a device that could hold a large amount of data, wasn’t too expensive, did not need internet access, was quite simple to use and had longevity power. We consulted with different organisations such as playlist for life and Ace-It as to the best MP3 Player to buy and hand a short list of 2 players. We looked at the positive and negatives for both and decided which one suited our members needs best. We purchased MP3 Players and headphones for our members and hopefully in turn give their carers a little respite. MP3 Player was filled with a selection of audio books, music from the website of the Living Memory Association such as, the forgotten songs from the broom cupboard which plays an hour of obscure, little known and forgotten songs and artist. All from original 78, 33 and 45 rpm records. The Thelma Tapes podcast showcases memories of days gone by, the past brought to life by the hundreds of people who have told us their stories and Leith Lives Podcasts, the stories of the men, women and children who have shaped the very history of Leith and made it a place to be proud of. The instruction for use were sent to carers and next of kin with instruction of when the best time to sit their loved one down in a comfy chair with a hot drink and start the MP3 Player. The players were delivered in July to each member in an A4 zipped plastic folder and include instructions and a large visual aid to show them how the player worked. Feedback from carers included, ‘I didn’t think mum would like listing to the player as she is 98 but as soon as the music came on she started tapping her food and enjoyed every minute’ ‘Dad loved the Leith Lives podcasts it brought back great memories of his youth living in Leith and he made his grandson listen as well’ ‘my grans eyesight is not good now and although she used to be a keen reader doesn’t do much now so the audio books were great for her , she listened to ever one although I had to rewind a few times as she fell asleep occasionally’ Carers felt that the MP3 players had helped to elevate boredom and stimulate conversation, comments included, ‘Dad really enjoyed listening to the podcasts so much so that mum also listened so they could discuss the podcast and the memories they both had. One evening we 3 generations of my family discussing life in Leith and my dad telling us his own stories that listing to the podcasts had reminded him of’ ‘Mum looked forward to her afternoon listing to her audio books it was a revelation for her I really don’t know why we hadn’t thought of it before, it was great respite for me and meant I could grab some time for myself which was a god send’
Carers will report that the regular respite gives them time to recharge their batteries, pay more attention to their own needs and their family’s needs which in turn reduces the stress of having caring responsibilities.
Through lockdown carers stress has grown rapidly and as support services have decreased, cares stress has increased. Carers have become desperate for more support and respite. Cares who have loved ones with underlying health conditions and are shielding or carers themselves who have their own health conditions and are shielding have found life especially difficult. From August 2020, we started working on a plan to enable staff and volunteers to meet members who could walk independently outside their homes, weather permitting, for a walk or to sit in their gardens with 2 meter physical distaining. The feedback from cares was very positive and everyone who was able to come out wanted to. But it soon became apparent that our member’s physical and mental health had deteriorated over the preceding months and we had to work with carers and members on an individual basis tailoring the outings to member’s specific needs and requirements. The outings have also gave carers a much needed break.
Heather (84) lives with her son Scott in the Stenhouse area of Edinburgh. Heather is registered blind but can see very slightly. Scott works from home and they have care package each morning, Heather has not been out of the house for 6 months during coronavirus pandemic and her mental and physical health had started to deteriorated. Her son Scott was also struggling with his caring role and becoming increasing stressed. Scott and Heather were very keen that Heather could start getting out of the house again for a short breaks they both felt it would do Heather the world of good and something to look forward to. Because of Heather eyesight was so bad a walk would not be suitable for her so we decided to organise a taxi to collect her and a volunteer, both wearing PPE and following physically distancing and bring them to our hub once a week for lunch and to take part in an activity. The following is a note from a trip to the café from our volunteer: “I can confirm that I took H to the Broomhouse Cafe again for lunch on Thursday 8th October. We took a contract taxi to the Hub and one back to Hs house again. As you know H is very agile, but her bad eyesight makes the taxi imperative. We both wear masks, and sit as far apart as possible in the taxi, in diagonally opposite corners. I have to be close to fasten her seatbelt (she cannot see to do this) but that takes a very short length of time. H had vegetarian lasagne for lunch, with a small side salad, and she absolutely loved it. Afterwards, we did some quizzing from the new book the manager had ordered for us. After a while, D, Care Assistant, arrived with A, another member of the Beacon Club. H was delighted to see them, and whilst we remained at our own table, we were able to converse. We had mugs of tea, and D produced some biscuits, which went down well. I got H one of the free recycled bags, beautifully sewn by the Vintage Vibes Group, and she was very pleased with it. At 2pm our taxi arrived, and I took H home, leaving her with her son, and carer. Her son had a funeral to attend this afternoon and was very happy and grateful that he could attend whilst his mum was have a lovely afternoon out of the house. I told him it was my pleasure.